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40
Constraint propagation
 Handbook of Constraint Programming
, 2006
"... Constraint propagation is a form of inference, not search, and as such is more ”satisfying”, both technically and aesthetically. —E.C. Freuder, 2005. Constraint reasoning involves various types of techniques to tackle the inherent ..."
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Cited by 76 (5 self)
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Constraint propagation is a form of inference, not search, and as such is more ”satisfying”, both technically and aesthetically. —E.C. Freuder, 2005. Constraint reasoning involves various types of techniques to tackle the inherent
Contractor Programming
 Artificial Intelligence
"... Abstract. This paper describes a solver programming method, called contractor programming, that copes with two issues related to constraint processing over the reals. First, continuous constraints involve an inevitable step of solver design. Existing softwares provide an insufficient answer by restr ..."
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Cited by 35 (17 self)
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Abstract. This paper describes a solver programming method, called contractor programming, that copes with two issues related to constraint processing over the reals. First, continuous constraints involve an inevitable step of solver design. Existing softwares provide an insufficient answer by restricting users to choose among a list of fixed strategies. Our first contribution is to give more freedom in solver design by introducing programming concepts where only configuration parameters were previously available. Programming consists in applying operators (intersection, composition, etc.) on algorithms called contractors that are somehow similar to propagators. Second, many problems with real variables cannot be cast as the search for vectors simultaneously satisfying the set of constraints, but a large variety of different outputs may be demanded from a set of constraints (e.g., a paving with boxes inside and outside of the solution set). These outputs can actually be viewed as the result of different contractors working concurrently on the same search space, with a bisection procedure intervening in case of deadlock. Such algorithms (which are not strictly speaking solvers) will be made easy to build thanks to a new branch & prune system, called paver. Thus, this paper gives a way to deal harmoniously with a larger set of problems while giving a fine control on the solving mechanisms. The contractor formalism and the paver system are the two contributions. The approach is motivated and justified through different cases of study. An implementation of this framework named Quimper is also presented. 1
A study of residual supports in arc consistency
 In Proceedings of IJCAI’07
, 2007
"... Abstract. In an Arc Consistency (AC) algorithm, a residual support, or residue, is a support that has been stored during a previous execution of the procedure which determines if a value is supported by a constraint. The point is that a residue is not guaranteed to represent a lower bound of the sma ..."
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Cited by 31 (16 self)
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Abstract. In an Arc Consistency (AC) algorithm, a residual support, or residue, is a support that has been stored during a previous execution of the procedure which determines if a value is supported by a constraint. The point is that a residue is not guaranteed to represent a lower bound of the smallest current support of a value. In this paper, we study the theoretical impact of exploiting residues with respect to the basic algorithm AC3. First, we prove that AC3r (AC3 with unidirectional residues) and AC3rm (AC3 with multidirectional residues) are optimal for low and high constraint tightness. Second, we show that when AC has to be maintained during a backtracking search (the wellknown MAC algorithm), MAC2001 presents, with respect to MAC3r and MAC3rm, an overhead in O(µed) per branch of the binary tree built by MAC, where µ denotes the number of refutations of the branch, e the number of constraints and d the greatest domain size of the constraint network. One consequence is that, MAC3r and MAC3rm admit a better worstcase time complexity than MAC2001 for a branch involving µ refutations when either µ> d 2 or µ> d and the tightness of any constraint is either low or high. Our experimental results clearly show that exploiting residues allows enhancing MAC and SAC algorithms. 1
Theoretical analysis of singleton arc consistency
 Proceedings ECAI’04 Workshop on Modelling and solving problems with constraints
, 2004
"... Singleton arc consistency (SAC) is a consistency property that is simple to specify and is stronger than arc consistency. Algorithms have already been proposed to enforce SAC, but they have a high time complexity. In this paper, we give a lower bound to the worstcase time complexity of enforcing SA ..."
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Cited by 28 (3 self)
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Singleton arc consistency (SAC) is a consistency property that is simple to specify and is stronger than arc consistency. Algorithms have already been proposed to enforce SAC, but they have a high time complexity. In this paper, we give a lower bound to the worstcase time complexity of enforcing SAC on binary constraints. We discuss two interesting features of SAC. The first feature leads us to propose an algorithm for SAC that has optimal time complexity when restricted to binary constraints. The second feature leads us to extend SAC to a stronger level of local consistency that we call Bidirectional SAC (BiSAC). We also show the relationship between SAC and the propagation of disjunctive constraints. 1
Generalized arc consistency for positive table constraints
 In Proceedings of CP’06
, 2006
"... Abstract. In this paper, we propose a new algorithm to establish Generalized Arc Consistency (GAC) on positive table constraints, i.e. constraints defined in extension by a set of allowed tuples. Our algorithm visits the lists of valid and allowed tuples in an alternative fashion when looking for a ..."
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Cited by 28 (9 self)
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Abstract. In this paper, we propose a new algorithm to establish Generalized Arc Consistency (GAC) on positive table constraints, i.e. constraints defined in extension by a set of allowed tuples. Our algorithm visits the lists of valid and allowed tuples in an alternative fashion when looking for a support (i.e. a tuple that is both allowed and valid). It is then able to jump over sequences of valid tuples containing no allowed tuple and over sequences of allowed tuples containing no valid tuple. Our approach, that can be easily grafted to any generic GAC algorithm, admits on some instances a behaviour quadratic in the arity of the constraints whereas classical approaches, i.e. approaches that focus on either valid or allowed tuples, admit an exponential behaviour. We show the effectiveness of this approach, both theoretically and experimentally. 1
A greedy approach to establish singleton arc consistency
 In Proceedings of IJCAI’05
, 2005
"... In this paper, we propose a new approach to establish Singleton Arc Consistency (SAC) on constraint networks. While the principle of existing SAC algorithms involves performing a breadthfirst search up to a depth equal to 1, the principle of the two algorithms introduced in this paper involves perf ..."
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Cited by 26 (12 self)
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In this paper, we propose a new approach to establish Singleton Arc Consistency (SAC) on constraint networks. While the principle of existing SAC algorithms involves performing a breadthfirst search up to a depth equal to 1, the principle of the two algorithms introduced in this paper involves performing several runs of a greedy search (where at each step, arc consistency is maintained). It is then an original illustration of applying inference (i.e. establishing singleton arc consistency) by search. Using a greedy search allows benefiting from the incrementality of arc consistency, learning relevant information from conflicts and, potentially finding solution(s) during the inference process. Furthermore, both space and time complexities are quite competitive. 1
Optimization of simple tabular reduction for table constraints
 In Proceedings of CP’08
, 2008
"... Abstract. Table constraints play an important role within constraint programming. Recently, many schemes or algorithms have been proposed to propagate table constraints or/and to compress their representation. We show that simple tabular reduction (STR), a technique proposed by J. Ullmann to dynamic ..."
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Cited by 25 (11 self)
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Abstract. Table constraints play an important role within constraint programming. Recently, many schemes or algorithms have been proposed to propagate table constraints or/and to compress their representation. We show that simple tabular reduction (STR), a technique proposed by J. Ullmann to dynamically maintain the tables of supports, is very often the most efficient practical approach to enforce generalized arc consistency within MAC. We also describe an optimization of STR which allows limiting the number of operations related to validity checking or search of supports. Interestingly enough, this optimization makes STR potentially r times faster where r is the arity of the constraint(s). The results of an extensive experimentation that we have conducted with respect to random and structured instances indicate that the optimized algorithm we propose is usually around twice as fast as the original STR and can be up to one order of magnitude faster than previous stateoftheart algorithms on some series of instances. 1
Constructive Interval Disjunction
 In Proc. CP, LNCS 4741
, 2007
"... Abstract. This paper presents two new filtering operators for numerical CSPs (systems with constraints over the reals) based on constructive disjunction, as well as a new splitting heuristic. The fist operator (CID) isa generic algorithm enforcing constructive disjunction with intervals. The second ..."
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Cited by 16 (13 self)
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Abstract. This paper presents two new filtering operators for numerical CSPs (systems with constraints over the reals) based on constructive disjunction, as well as a new splitting heuristic. The fist operator (CID) isa generic algorithm enforcing constructive disjunction with intervals. The second one (3BCID) is a hybrid algorithm mixing constructive disjunction and shaving, another technique already used with numerical CSPs through the algorithm 3B. Finally, the splitting strategy learns from the CID filtering step the next variable to be split, with no overhead. Experiments have been conducted with 20 benchmarks. On several benchmarks, CID and 3BCID produce a gain in performance of orders of magnitude over a standard strategy. CID compares advantageously to the 3B operator while being simpler to implement. Experiments suggest to fix the CIDrelated parameter in 3BCID, offering thus to the user a promising variant of 3B. 1
Conservative Dual Consistency
 In Proceedings of AAAI’07
, 2007
"... Consistencies are properties of Constraint Networks (CNs) that can be exploited in order to make inferences. When a significant amount of such inferences can be performed, CNs are much easier to solve. In this paper, we interest ourselves in relation filtering consistencies for binary constraints, i ..."
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Cited by 10 (7 self)
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Consistencies are properties of Constraint Networks (CNs) that can be exploited in order to make inferences. When a significant amount of such inferences can be performed, CNs are much easier to solve. In this paper, we interest ourselves in relation filtering consistencies for binary constraints, i.e. consistencies that allow to identify inconsistent pairs of values. We propose a new consistency called Dual Consistency (DC) and relate it to Path Consistency (PC). We show that Conservative DC (CDC, i.e. DC with only relations associated with the constraints of the network considered) is more powerful, in terms of filtering, than Conservative PC (CPC). Following the approach of Mac Gregor, we introduce an algorithm to establish (strong) CDC with a very low worstcase space complexity. Even if the relative efficiency of the algorithm introduced to establish (strong) CDC partly depends on the density of the constraint graph, the experiments we have conducted show that, on many series of CSP instances, CDC is largely faster than CPC (up to more than one order of magnitude). Besides, we have observed that enforcing CDC in a preprocessing stage can significantly speed up the resolution of hard structured instances.
Enforcing Arc Consistency using Bitwise Operations
 CONSTRAINT PROGRAMMING LETTERS
, 2007
"... In this paper, we propose to exploit bitwise operations to speed up some important computations such as looking for a support of a value in a constraint, or determining if a value is substitutable by another one. Considering a computer equipped with a xbit CPU, one can then expect an increase of th ..."
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Cited by 9 (5 self)
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In this paper, we propose to exploit bitwise operations to speed up some important computations such as looking for a support of a value in a constraint, or determining if a value is substitutable by another one. Considering a computer equipped with a xbit CPU, one can then expect an increase of the performance by a coefficient up to x (which may be important, since x is equal to 32 or 64 in many current central units). To show the interest of enforcing arc consistency using bitwise operations, we introduce a new variant of AC3, denoted by AC3 bit, which can be used when constraints are (or can be) represented in extension. This new algorithm when embedded in MAC, is approximately two times more efficient than AC3 rm. Note that AC3 rm is a variant of AC3 which exploits the concept of residual supports and has been shown to be faster than AC2001.